In a sense, Owen Kinch wants the parts of a farm to run themselves.
Kinch, a Saskatchewan grain farmer, said with the increase in the size of farming operations, it makes sense to find ways to increase efficiency and automation.
His Edmonton-based company Mojow is focused on streamlining farming operations with the introduction of digital tech and AI to help producers do it.
Kinch had begun development of an autonomous platform on his farm about five years ago with a company called Dot Technology. When the company sold, he wanted to pursue this full time.
“I wasn’t quite done. I didn’t feel like I was finished, I guess,” Kinch said.
He sees the benefit to farms, to the industry and to the environment and ultimately, the consumer.
It could significantly reduce labour and machinery costs and the management of such, with tools dedicated to autonomy.
And, in doing so, it eliminates the need to draw employees from a dwindling rural population, Kinch said.
“There’s just not a lot of people out in the countryside to work on these farms,” he said.
“It’s good work, but it’s seasonal and seasonal work, it’s just lower paying. It’s tough to attract and retain top talent.”
Kinch’s first venture with Dot gave him some of the tools needed to launch his own venture. But he was a director, so he didn’t have all the business acumen that was downloaded during his time with Alberta Yield.
“Basically, they’re punching holes in my business,” he said.
“They’re identifying cracks or areas where I don’t have anything or I’ve missed or haven’t focused on. They’re identifying those areas so that I can shore them up now, where it might take me a week or two now, or cost me a little bit of money rather than six months down the road and cost me huge money.”
They’re developing the digital technology needed to make some of the farming operations manageable. Anything that could be made autonomous, they’re looking at.
AI will play a bigger role in delivering these tools to Canadian farms, Kinch said.
One farm, two farm – then lots of farms?
As Kinch mentioned, he’s been perfecting some of the technology on his own 3,000-acre farm.
He’s also set up a system at his neighbour’s farm, too.
They’re at seven employees now and they want to get beyond this stage. They have a lot of small things that they need to clean up to move ahead, everything from technical tweaks to things like pitch decks.
“That’s probably the main reason I’m in this is because I need to ready myself and my company for that,” he said.
“It’s like business readiness, so that when you get to that point, your business is fully ready. It has all the documentation, all the tools, you understand the process. So, when it’s time to action or move, you’re ready. And you look like you’re ready, because you are ready.”